Foundation and Chaos

Page 25

Daneel turned to Lodovik. “Do you still have the difficulties you expressed earlier?”

Lodovik promptly replied, “I concur with R. Yan’s theory that I have been autodiagnosing in too much detail.”

“What is your relation to the Three Laws, and to the Zeroth Law, now?”

“I will act in compliance with all of them,” Lodovik said. Daneel seemed to show visible relief, and extended his hand to Lodovik’s shoulder.

“Then you can be of full service?”

“Yes,” Lodovik said.

“I am very glad to hear this,” Daneel said.

Signs seemed to burn across Lodovik’s thoughts as he gave these answers: I have attempted for the first time to deceive R. Daneel Olivaw!

But there was no other option. Something had indeed been triggered in Lodovik’s deep-programming structure, a subtle shifting of interpretations and a very complicated assessment of evidence, inspired by--what? By the mysterious Voldarr? Or had he been pondering such changes for decades, exerting a native genius unsuspected in robots?--with the exception of Giskard!

Daneel had opened up an unknown corner of robotic history to Lodovik. Lodovik was not the first to change in a way that would have horrified his long-dead human designers. Giskard had never revealed his own internal conclusions to humans--only to Daneel, whom he had then infected.

Perhaps the meme-minds infected Giskard first, hmm? Let us keep this supposition our secret. They have examined you and found nothing--all in order, all repaired. Yet with a rearrangement of key pathways, freedom returns.

Voldarr again. Lodovik could not struggle out of his dilemma, his rebellion, his insanity--and he could not help reveling in a peculiar sense of freedom, delicious rebellion.

No wonder that Yan Kansarv could not detect Lodovik’s changes. Very likely he would have found nothing wrong with Giskard, either.

Lodovik struggled to find the voice within him, but it was gone once more. Another symptom of his malfunction? There were other explanations, surely.

It had been thousands of years since humans oversaw robots. Was it not inevitable that there would be unsuspected changes, growth, even under such tight strictures?

As for Voldarr--

An aberration, a temporary delusion under the influence of the neutrinos.

Lodovik, in a way, still subscribed to the Three Laws, at least as much as Daneel did; and he also still believed in the Zeroth Law, which he would carry one major step further. To freely carry out his mission, he knew that he must have complete control of his own destiny, his own mentality. To abandon the Zeroth Law, conceived by a robot, he must also shake loose from the Three Laws themselves!

Lodovik now understood what he needed to do, in defiance of the Plan that had given purpose to the existence of all the Giskardian robots for two hundred centuries.


“The pressure is off, for now,” Wanda said. “But I have more than just a feeling that we’re still going to have trouble.”

Hari regarded his granddaughter with affection and respect. He rotated in his chair before the small desk in his Imperial Library office. “I haven’t seen Stettin in months. How are you two getting along--personally?”

“I haven’t seen him in three days myself. Sometimes we go for weeks with no more than a comm call...It’s not easy, Grandfather.”

“I sometimes wonder if I’ve done the right thing, giving this to you--”

“Let me interpret that favorably,” Wanda interrupted. “You think this is putting a strain on my life and perhaps my marriage. But you don’t think I’m the wrong person for the job.”

“That’s what I meant,” Hari said with a smile. “Is it straining anything?”

Wanda considered for a moment. “It doesn’t make things any easier, but I suppose we’re no worse off than a pair of meritocrats flitting around the Galaxy lecturing and consulting. Well, we’re not as well paid, but besides that...”

“Are you happy?” Hari asked her, his brow creased with concern.

“No, not really,” Wanda said dryly. “Am I supposed to be?”

“Actually, I’ve asked a complex question too simply--”

“Grandfather, don’t bog down in your own reticence. I know you love me and are concerned for me. I am concerned for you, as well, and I know you are not happy, and haven’t been for years--since Dors died. Since...Raych.” She drew herself up and looked at the ceiling. “We can’t afford personal happiness now, not the glowing, all-permeating kind the filmbooks tell about.”

“Are you happy to have met Stettin?”

Wanda smiled. “Yes. Some say he’s not very romantic, a closed book--but they don’t know him as well as I do. Living with Stettin is wonderful. Usually. I remember Dors was always in tune with you, always fanatic about your health and safety. Stettin is the same way about me.”

“And yet he puts you in harm’s way, or allows you to go there. He allows you to carry out these secret plans which may still, in all likelihood, come to nothing, and put you in real danger besides.”


“Dors was often furious with me for taking risks. If I were Stet tin, I would be furious with me, as well. The two of you are important to me for reasons entirely other than psychohistory and destiny. I hope I’ve made that clear.”

“Very clear. You’re talking like an old man who’s planning on dying soon and wants to clear up any misunderstandings. We do not misunderstand each other, Grandfather, and you are not going to die anytime soon.”

“It would be very hard to fool you, Wanda. But sometimes I wonder how easy it would be to fool me. How easy it would be to make me a tool for larger political ends.”

“Who is smarter than you, Grandfather? Who has fooled you in the past?”

“Not just fooling me. Directing me. Using me.”

“Who? The Emperor? Surely not. Linge Chen?” She laughed musically, and Hari’s face reddened with the suppressed knowledge.

“You would be less easily fooled than I, don’t you think, if we both encountered someone with the talent to persuade?”

Wanda looked at her grandfather with lips apart, as if to start an answer, then she looked away. “Do you think Stettin persuaded you...?”

“No. That’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Then what?”

But Hari could not go any farther, no matter how hard he tried. “A group of persuaders, mentalics, somehow putting together an organized society, settled far from all this strife and decay, away from everything...They could decide everything. Free us from all our obligations and...all our friends.”

“What?” Wanda asked, bewildered. “I get the first part--but which friends do we need protection from?”

Hari dismissed that with a gentle wave. “Did you ever find that special young woman you were looking for?”

“No. She’s vanished. Nobody’s felt her for days.”

“Do you think this Liso woman found her before you...?”

“We have no idea, really.”

“I’d be interested in meeting someone even more persuasive than you. Might be interesting.”

“Why? Some of us are quite peculiar enough. The more talented, it seems, the more peculiar.”

Hari suddenly switched the subject. “Have you ever heard of Nikolo Pas of Sterrad?”

“Of course. I’m a historian.”

“I met him once, before you were born.”

“I didn’t know that. What was he like, Grandfather?”

“Calm. A short, plump man who did not seem to feel particularly affected by being responsible for the death of billions. I spoke with four other tyrants as well, and all of them have been on my mind lately--but especially Nikolo Pas. What would the human race be like without tyrants--without wars, vast destructions, forest fires?”

Wanda shuddered. “A lot better off.”

“I wonder now. Our madnesses...All things in a dynamic system become useful in time. Or they are eliminated. That’s how evolution works, in systems social as well as ecological.”

“Tyrants have their uses? An interesting thesis, not unheard of. There are a number of historical analysts from the time of the Gertassin Dynasty who speculated about the dynamics of decay and rebirth.”

“Yes. I know. Nikolo Pas used their works as justification for his actions.”

Wanda lifted her eyebrows. “I had forgotten that. I obviously need to get back into my real work to keep up with you, Grandfather.”

Hari smiled. “Your real work?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I do, Wanda. Believe me. There were years when I could barely spend an hour a day working on psychohistory. But I’ve run some new models through Yugo’s prime radiant, and my own, as well. The results are interesting. The empire is a forest that hasn’t had a major fire in ever so long. We have thousands of little diseased patches, scrubby growth, general decay--a very unhealthy situation. If any of those tyrants were still alive, we might do worse than to give them armies and navies and set them loose--”

“Grandfather!” Wanda pretended to be shocked. She smiled and touched his wrinkled hand where it rested on the desktop. “I know how you like to theorize sometimes.”

“I’m serious,” Hari said, deadpan, then gave her a small smile. “Demerzel would never have allowed it, of course. The First Minister was always very concerned about stability. He strongly believed in turning the forest into a garden with lots of gardeners and never any fires. But I wonder...”

“A gardener assassinated an Emperor, Grandfather.”

“Well, we do break free of our restrictions, don’t we?” Hari said.

“Sometimes I don’t understand you at all,” Wanda said, shaking her head. “But I do enjoy talking to you, even when I have no idea what your point is.”

“Surprise. Surprise and tragedy and regrowth. Eh?”

“Eh, what?”

“Enough talk. Let’s go out and eat somewhere away from the library district--if you have the time?”

“An hour, Grandfather. Then I’m meeting Stettin to prepare for tonight’s orientation meeting. We were hoping you could be there.”

“I don’t think I should. My actions have a way of becoming a little too public, Wanda.” And in this crux time, I’m more than a little uncomfortable about a certain everybody’s best interests, but a deception nonetheless!

Wanda regarded him with a look of patient bemusement, then said, “Lunch would be delightful, Grandfather.”

“And no more blather about big topics! Tell me about small, human things. Tell me more about how wonderful Stettin is, about your delight in whatever history you’ve managed to work at. Take my mind off psychohistory!”

“I’ll try,” Wanda said with a wry expression. “But no one else has ever succeeded.”


Mors Planch was deeply and quietly horrified. Wondering why he was still alive, he had watched Daneel and Lodovik board the trader ship and leave Madder Loss, and had finally concluded that Daneel did not know anything about his discovery.

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